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Introduction to the Issue                                      Pharoah Sanders                                      Black

Works by Joe Peragine

Joe Peragine: Animations​

Prior to the events of September 11 my animated sequences were simple shapes moving across the screen. Afterwards the sequences included planes crashing into buildings, towers collapsing, bodies falling from the sky, and envelopes tearing open to reveal death. Initially there was no intention of compiling the clips into a narrative; they were simply my response to the events as they unfolded in the days and weeks after the attacks and served as a catharsis. However, before long there were enough clips to make two 3-minute animations, 9/11 and Ring of Fire. Looking at them now I am struck by how crudely animated they are (which is not entirely surprising since I was still learning the program at the time), yet despite the crudeness (or possibly because of it) they capture the intense raw emotions and feelings of uncertainty that defined that period of time.

Joe Peragine Ring of Fire 2001 Animation

Breathing Tank (2005) marks the first time I employed traditional frame animation to complete a finished piece. The piece started as preliminary sketches for a large inflatable sculpture. Only after the sculpture was fabricated and displayed did I go back and expand the initial sketches into a finished animation. Both the sculpture and the animation are part of a body of work titled Hell on Wheels. The earliest works in this series are watercolors done on location in Normandy, France where decommissioned WWII era Sherman Tanks are ubiquitous. The tanks can be found in front of memorials and museums and in the center squares of small towns throughout the region. This body of work grew from simple sketches of local color into a comprehensive investigation of the Sherman Tank as an object, symbol and metaphor. Though outwardly menacing and powerful, the Sherman Tank proved to be inadequate in firepower and armor compared to its German counterparts. This dichotomy, the contradiction between image and reality, power and impotence, is a thread that runs through all the work in this series and is highlighted in a comical way in Breathing Tank.

Joe Peragine Breathing Tank 2005 Animation

Patriotic Drawings for Children (2017) comes full circle. Like the earliest animations, this piece is a raw response to events as they unfolded during the recent presidential election. The animation consists of several hundred drawings, most of which are presented rapid fire, chronicling the multitude of offenses that were completely ignored by many voters. The soundtrack is a homogenized instrumental version of Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land, and comes from a collection of songs titled Patriotic Songs for Children. It is ironic that Guthrie’s folk classic is included on such a collection as it was written as a critical response to Irving Berlin’s God Bless America.  It certainly wasn’t intended to promote xenophobia. My goal was to re-appropriate the song and help return it to its rightful place as an alternative anthem.

Joe Peragine Patriotic Drawings for Children 2017 Animation

Joe Peragine is a Professor in Drawing, Painting, and Printmaking at Georgia State University.

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